Free school meals entitlement
Who is entitled to free school meals?
Parents do not have to pay for school lunches if they receive any of the following:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit* and have an annual household income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) that does not exceed £16,190
- Universal Credit
*unless in the Working Tax Credit 'run on' - the payment someone may receive for a further 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
Children who receive any of the qualifying benefits listed above in their own right are also eligible to receive free school meals.
What if my circumstances change?
You should notify the school of any changes:
- if you start work and come off benefit
- if you change address
- if your child changes school
What is the Pupil Premium?
The school receives a Pupil Premium payment for the year in which families are eligible for free school meals and automatically for the next five years. This year it is £935 for secondary pupils and £1300 for primary pupils. This additional funding will be invested in your child to help them achieve more at school. Some schools offer free uniform, trips, one to one tuition and additional teaching support, help towards music lessons and after school activities. If eligible for free school meals, you may also be entitled to claim other forms of assistance, for example with home to school transport.
Eligibility criteria and information on free school meals are available to download at http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/parents/schools/free-school-meals
Registration forms are available to download at http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/parents/schools/free-school-meals?tab=downloads
Free School Meals and Healthy Eating
Over the last few years the quality of school food has improved dramatically. Research shows that pupils are more likely to concentrate in lessons if they have eaten a nutritionally balanced meal at lunchtime. By choosing school lunches, not only will you be saving yourself the time of preparing a packed lunch every day, you can also be sure that your child is getting the range and amount of food that will help contribute to their health and well-being. On average parents spend £450 on packed lunches per year for each child, which is money that could be spent on other things.
Universal Infant Free School Meals
Since September 2014, all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 attending state-funded schools in England are eligible for free school meals. This includes pupils attending academies, free schools, maintained special schools, pupil referral units, and day pupils in non-maintained special schools.
Universal infant free school meals are designed to:
- improve educational attainment and children's social skills and behaviour;
- ensure that children have access to at least one healthy meal each day, and support the development of long term healthy eating habits;
- help families with the cost of living, saving an average of £437 per eligible child;
- ensure children have the right amount of energy and nutrients to sustain them during the afternoon.
Attainment, social skills and behaviour
In pilot studies of universal infant free school meals they were found to:
- improve performance in the classroom;
- increase take-up of meals amongst children from low-income families, who were already entitled to, but not taking free meals;
- higher take-up of school lunches amongst other children;
- creates a culture of social and behavioural benefits where children sat down to eat with friends and teachers, broadening social skills, teaching table manners and supporting equality.
School food has improved enormously during the last few years. School meals provide a wide range of foods across the week from different fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, meat and fish. Children having school meals are often more keen to try new foods when they are eating with their friends.
The School Food Standards develop healthy eating habits and ensure that your child will get the energy and nutrition needed across the whole school day. Instilling healthy eating habits at a young age can be carried forward into adulthood. www.schoolfoodplan.com/standards
To find out how your child can benefit, please contact your child's school for further information and menus.